The prepositions ‘zu’ and ‘nach’

Whist learning German, grammatical queries do come up. I would like use this opportunity to illustrate another topic that students ask me during their German courses: What is the different usage of the prepositions ‘zu’ and ‘nach’? The preposition ‘nach’ can mean after when used with time; for example: Nach dem Fußballspiel gehen wir ein […]

Helikoptereltern helikoptern

Hallo liebe Schülerinnen und liebe Schüler, Herzlich willkommen zu unserem Podcast. In die 28. Dudenauflage von 2020 wurde ein neues Wort aufgenommen: die Helikoptereltern. Wer oder was sind denn Helikoptereltern? Vielleicht sind es gut betuchte Väter und Mütter, die ihre Kinder per Hubschrauber in die Schule bringen lassen? Einen Moment bitte, ich schlage mal im […]

Langeweile kommt auf

Hallo liebe DeutschlernerInnen! Willkommen zu unserem Podcast. Wenn ihr mehr erfahren wollt, was ich tagsüber mache, dann schaut es euch an auf www.languagecoach.co.uk. Es ist nun schon eine lange Weile her seit meinem letzten Podcast. Wir befinden uns inmitten der Corona-Krise und viele Leute arbeiten immer noch von Zuhause oder machen Homeoffice, wie man das […]

German Modal verbs

Studying the German language, learners come across modal verbs which can express desire, ability, obligations or probability. In German, we conjugate the modal verb which then retains second position in a main clause. The main verb is added in its infinitive form to the end of the sentence. For example: Ich darf meine Hausaufgaben nicht […]

Up-skill during lockdown

Many countries are still in lockdown and many people are working from home with plenty of extra time at their hands. That’s an extra 90 minutes a day in London if a one-way commute takes 45 minutes. Multiplied by 5 working days and, voilà, there are 7.5 hours every week that need filling. After the […]

Genug von Netflix und essen mit Chopstix

Hallo Liebe Schülerinnen und Schüler, Herzlich willkommen zu unserem neuesten Podcast vom 27. April 2020. Sicher wundert ihr euch, was das für Musik ist, die ihr da eben gehört habt. Doch dazu gleich mehr. Ich bin nun schon mehrere Wochen Gefangener. Natürlich nicht Insasse einer Besserung -oder gar Justizanstalt, sondern zu Hause. Alles wegen der […]

Learning a language online

I’ve been teaching German on a one-to-one basis and in group settings for many years. I now find myself teaching German online to continue earning a living and to minimise disruption to existing students so that they can progress with their German language studies during this Covid19 crisis. Until February 2020, I was no advocate […]

The steroids for language learners

Google translate appears to be a handy tool when you learn German. A word or phrase entered in English often produces the desired result in a foreign target language. When teaching German, I find that students often assume that online translation softwares or online dictionaries are an acceptable instrument. An online dictionary is very practical […]

Die Zuhörer

Hallo, liebe Schülerinnen und Schüler, Herzlich Willkommen zu unserem Podcast, in dem es um euch, meine Zuhörer, gehen soll. Wieso um die Zuhörer werdet ihr euch fragen. Also, kürzlich habe ich mir mal die Statistiken meines Podcasts bei den verschiedenen Streaming-Diensten angeschaut. Dabei bemerkte ich, dass Spotify am beliebtesten ist. Diese Statistiken habe ich etwas […]

Learning a second language

With the new decade just three weeks old, New Year’s resolutions are high on the agenda. Folks have all sorts of good intentions for 2020 and for some it is learning a new language. In the UK, only 34% of 15 – 30 year olds speak a second language. That’s very few compared with Denmark […]

Warum Silvester?

Hallo liebe Schülerinnen und Schüler, Willkommen zu unserem Podcast. Heute ist der 23. Dezember und das Jahr neigt sich dem Ende entgegen. Am 31. Dezember lassen wir das Jahr gebührlich ausklingen, in dem wir es krachen lassen und Silvester feiern. Oft werde ich von meinen Schülerinnen und Schülern gefragt, warum die Deutschen den letzten Tag […]

Der Weihnachtsbaum

Hallo, liebe Schülerinnen und Schüler!  Es ist mal wieder soweit: die Tage werden kürzer, es ist kalt in Nordeuropa, in den Bergen liegt schon Schnee. Weihnachten steht vor der Tür. Was wäre denn da nicht angebrachter, als über den Weihnachtsbaum zu sprechen, der ja angeblich ein deutscher Exportschlager ist. Aber ist er es wirklich? Wenn […]

Ein namenloser Bube

Hallo liebe Schülerinnen und Schüler, Herzlich Willkommen zu unserem Podcast! Das heutige Thema: Ein namenloser Bube. Warum namenloser Bube und um welchen Buben geht es  hier überhaupt?  Na ist doch klar – es geht um das vor 2 Tagen geborene Kind von Harry und Meghan, Herzog und Herzogin von Sussex. Gala und Bunte-Abonnenten unter uns […]

In German: Is a Beemer he, she or it?

A Beemer, or BMW, made by the famous German car manufacturer Bayrische Motorenwerke in Munich is a popular accessory for many and certainly complements the German language learning experience. With the car’s satnav and onboard systems set to German it helps to pick up new vocabulary and and learn the German imperative when the friendly […]

der BMW oder die BMW?

Hallo liebe Schülerinnen und Schüler, herzlich Willkommen zu unserem Podcast. Beim Deutschlernen befindet ihr euch sicherlich manchmal in der Zwickmühle, weil ihr entscheiden müsst, ob das Nomen, welches ihr gerade benutzen wollt, männlich, weiblich oder sächlich ist. Hier geht es um Genus, also um grammatikalisches Geschlecht, welches übrigens nicht nur in der deutschen Sprache existiert.  […]

Ist die britische Königin deutsch?

Hallo und herzlich willkommen! Heute ist der 6. Januar 2019. Das Jahr ist 6 Tage alt und es ist ja noch angebracht, euch ein Frohes Neues Jahr zu wünschen. Ich sage: Prosit! Das heutige Thema: Ist die Britische Königin nun wirklich deutsch? Die Boulevardpresse in aller Herren Länder unterstellt der Königin ja hin und wieder, […]

Grammar terminology (part 4)

Grammatical gender of nouns is indicated by the definite articles. Der – masculine noun, die – feminine noun, das – neutral noun. Grammatical and biological gender ought not to be mixed up. However, with people, grammatical gender coincides with biological gender. Tenses are forms of verbs indicating when something is taking place, has taken place […]

Grammar terminology (part 3)

Possessive articles indicate to whom or what something belongs. For example: Is this your pen? No, this is my pen. A conjunction joins words or groups of words. Some conjunctions in German are und (and), oder (or), aber (but), weil (because), and dass (that). An infinitive is the base form of a verb, which has […]

Grammar terminology (part 2)

A definite article (“the” in English) refers to a particular, specific noun. In German, these are die, der and das, and all their various case and gender forms (dem, den, des, das, der, die etc.).  An indefinite article (“a” or “an” in English) refers to a noun whose exact identity is not specified; not the […]

Grammar terminology (part 1)

Being able to understand grammar terminology is crucial. But many people learning German find it difficult to come to grips with it. In 4 weekly instalments we are explaining in simple terms the most important terminology that you may want know before attending German lessons or classes: A noun is a person, place, thing or […]

Perfect German

The perfect tense (das Perfekt) is the past that German speakers most often use when describing events that have been completed. Learners of the language sometimes get thrown by the use of two different auxiliary verbs, or helping verbs, when forming the perfect in German. The helping verb together with the past participle, in layman […]

Der Adventskranz

Hallo und willkommen zu unserem zwölften Podcast, in dem es um den Adventskranz geht. An den vier Wochenenden vor Weihnachen wird in vielen deutschen Haushalten ein Kranz mit 4 Kerzen aufgestellt – nämlich der Adventskranz. Was ist nun eigentlich ein Adventskranz? Also, ein Kranz ist ein aus Zweigen geformtes kreisförmiges Gebinde. Und der Advent? Advent ist abgeleitet aus […]

Do German nouns have gender identity issues?

Sometimes whilst teaching German, I am being asked why German nouns change genders. It is ‘die Tür’, a feminine noun, and suddenly somewhere mid sentence it is ‘der Tür’. ‘Der’ being the definite article for masculine nouns. Do German nouns have gender identity issues? A justifiable question from an unsuspecting student or a precocious question […]

Die Sommerzeit

Hallo liebe Schülerinnen und Schüler. Willkommen zu unserem 11. Podcast. Das Thema ist: Sommerzeit Ihr werdet euch fragen, warum ich inmitten des Herbstes über die Sommerzeit spreche. Natürlich geht es nicht um den Sommer, sondern um die Zeitumstellung am Sonntag, den 28. Oktober 2018, wenn die Uhren um eine Stunde zurückgestellt werden. Dann haben wir […]

Is it the funny letter ß or ss?

My students often ask during their German lessons if they can just replace ß with double ss. The answer is NEIN, unless you are learning Swiss German where the letter ß does not exist and is indeed replaced with a double ss. How do you know when it is ß and when double ss? Quite […]

Brexit, Dexit, Grexit, Frexit, Itexit

Hallo liebe Schülerinnen und Schüler! Willkommen zu unserem 10. Podcast. Heute geht es um ein Thema, das Europa seit fast 3 Jahren beschäftigt. Das Thema ist Brexit. Ist es nun der, die oder das Brexit? Wie ihr in unserem ersten Podcast schon erfahren habt, bestimmt das Geschlecht des dem Anglizismus zugrunde liegenden deutschen Wortes das Geschlecht […]

Versprochen ist versprochen

Hallo liebe Schülerinnen und Schüler! Herzlich willkommen zu unserem neunten Podcast. Das Thema heute: Versprochen ist versprochen Ihr werdet euch sicherlich an unseren gestrigen Podcast vom 15. Oktober 2018 erinnern. Gar nicht so lange her, oder? Ich hatte ja nach der vierjährigen Pause versprochen, nun regelmäßig einen neuen Podcast zu veröffentlichen. Da versprochen nunmal versprochen ist […]

Faule Ausreden

Hallo liebe Schülerinnen und Schüler! Herzlich willkommen zu unserem achten Podcast. Das Thema heute ist: Faule Ausreden Ihr werdet euch sicherlich an unseren letzten Podcast vom Sommer 2014 erinnern. Wie? Sommer 2014? Alles berechtigte Fragen, denn der letzte Podcast ist ja auch über vier Jahre alt: Aber gerade deshalb ist das Thema dieses Podcasts ‘Faule Ausreden’. […]

The new Duden has been published

The Duden is the authoritative source for correct spelling, grammar and pronunciation in German. It is what the Oxford English Dictionary is to English. It was first published in 1880 comprising 27,000 entries. The latest 27th edition has just been published with 145,000 entries, 5,000 more than in the previous edition. New words are mainly […]

German Idioms

All languages have their peculiarities with some expressions that are difficult to translate into other languages and, even when they are translated, don’t make a great deal of sense. When you do choose to learn German in the City of London you might not necessarily be taught these phrases but you could well come across […]

Double ‘s’ or ‘ß you may wonder?

During your German studies, you have come across the letter ‘ß’ which your German teacher calls SZ or sharp S. The letter was introduced in 1903 because the double S in Roman typography looked similar to SZ in old German typography. It came out of fashion in Switzerland but is still used in standard German […]

Cases in the German language

Teaching German at all levels, I am regularly tasked to explain cases to my students who tend to see them as an alien concept, but cases in German are easily explained. German has four cases: nominative, accusative, dative and genitive. Genitive is the easiest: it donates possession. The nominative case is reserved for the subject […]

German words from Asian languages

Often during German lessons, I get ask if there are words in German that are of Indo-Aryan or Austronesian origin. Many words covering religion and philosophy originate in Hindi, Arabic, Malay and Tamil. They made their way into German via the English language. There is der Bambus, which originates in Malay. From Bangla we have der […]

What did Napoleon do for the German language?

Do you know what Gallicism means? Gallicisms are words from French that have found use in another language. When learning German you will come across a lot of Gallicisms. They found their way into German during the reign of Louis XIV who was revered across the German aristocracy. Amusement, fashion, cuisine, the military are all […]

German words of Russian origin

When taking German lessons or attending a German course you’ll come across many German words of foreign origin. German, like other languages, borrows words typically from Latin, Greek, English and French. Less well known are Russian words that have made their way into the German language, often through the linguistic development of the part of […]

How many people do speak German?

Only 1.571% of the world  speaks German Why learn German you may ask? Please read on … There are about 7,000 languages worldwide. Many languages are threatened by extinction, especially languages spoken by natives in Asia and America. Some languages are spoken by only a couple of people. More that 50% of languages have less […]

German Inventions

Many world changing innovations originated in Germany, some widely known but others less so. A visit to the Deutsches Museum in Munich, where many of these inventions are displayed, will be enhanced by a knowledge of the German language which we teach here at German Language Coach in London. Most of us take books for […]

German Business Etiquette

When doing business in Germany you will probably at some point need to attend meetings and spend time in the offices of your German colleagues. To avoid making a faux pas you should familiarise yourself with the business etiquette in Germany. Most important is to have a working knowledge of the language, particularly with regard […]

Increase in German Manufacturing

There have already been signs of growth in German manufacturing and this could now get a boost from a proposed EU – US trade agreement. This makes it a great time to increase trade with Germany and learning German here in London would give you a definite advantage in this respect. The Transatlantic Trade and […]

Germany’s most liveable cities

There are many reasons for visiting Germany. Taking German lessons here in London before you go, can only enhance your experience. And there has never been a better time to go! In an annual survey about the quality of life in cities around the world conducted by Mercer, the global consultancy, seven German cities are […]

Levis Strauss – a famous German

The German founder of Levis Strauss learned English at a young age, which certainly helped his transition to doing business in America. Similarly, we can provide German lessons here in London to help you trade in Germany without even having to leave your office. Read on about how Levis Strauss did it: Löeb Strauss, who later […]

Germany – most positively rated

An annual survey conducted by Globescan on behalf of the BBC World service has shown that Germany is the most positively rated country in the world. In 2014, in the 10th consecutive Country Ratings Poll, over 24,000 people in 25 countries were asked if they felt the sixteen countries included, plus the European Union, had […]

Willkommen in Deutschland

More students than ever before are choosing to further their education in Germany and they are being welcomed with open arms. With low or, in some cases, no tuition fees and many of the universities located in attractive towns or vibrant cities it is no surprise that Germany has become more popular among foreign students. […]

Famous Germans – Bruce Willis

It is a little known fact that actor Bruce Willis is German. He was born as Walter Bruce Willis in 1955 in Idar-Oberstein, West Germany and, although his father was an American soldier serving in Germany, his mother, Marlene, was German. His father, David, moved the family to New Jersey, America on his discharge from […]

Who learns German?

We often get asked, whether there is a market for learning German in the City of London and who learns German and why. Yes, there is a large market for foreign language learning, especially German. Corporations approaching us are German companies operatingtheir staff to learn German or reacquaint themselves with the language at some stage. Then there are people […]

Famous Germans – Henry Kissinger

Unbeknown to many, a German served as the 56th Secretary of State from 1973-1977 – Henry Kissinger. Although he became a well-known face in politics, he came from humble beginnings in Bavaria, Germany. His father was a teacher and his mother a home-maker. They were German Jews, and in 1938 had to flee to the safety […]

German Words of Arabic Origin

Like many languages, German has evolved to include words, which originated from other languages; many of these are surprisingly derived from Arabic. Arabic words feature commonly in many Western languages and were most often introduced centuries ago. However you drink it, ‘Kaffee’ derives from the Arabic ‘qahwa’. Coffee drinking originated in 15th century Yemen and […]

Das Sommerloch

Hallo liebe Schülerinnen und Schüler. Herzlich Willkommen zu unserem nunmehr siebten Podcast. In diesem Podcast geht es um das Sommerloch. Im Duden wird das Sommerloch als besonders an wichtigen politischen Nachrichten arme Zeit während der sommerlichen Ferienzeit definiert. Es geht bei diesen Ferien natürlich nicht um die Schulferien, sondern um die Parlamentsferien, wenn viele Politiker im Sommerurlaub sind. Das Nachrichtenvolumen der Presseagenturen geht daher natürlich spürbar zurück. […]

Getting Your German Confused

German is a very useful language to learn, but you might find that you confuse some words for others, especially when they sound very similar, or if there’s only an umlaut’s worth of difference between them! Here’s a few examples where German words get a little confusing: ‘Gift’ and ‘Geschenk’ – Your German friends might […]

German Loan Words In English

With an increasingly interconnected world, where businesses are outsourced and partnerships are key to expanding businesses on a global scale, being fluent in English alone is not enough. Even if you are not running your own business, chances are that you work in a dynamic, multi-cultural environment and with that comes issues like bonding well […]

Muttivation

If you’re a World Cup fan, you’ll inevitably have seen, or at least heard of, Germany’s epic opening match where they walked away from Portugal with a 4-0 win. Hooray for Deutschland! To offer her congratulations in person, German Chancellor Angela Merkel travelled across the globe to Brazil to watch the match for herself and […]

Die Deutsche Bundeskanzlerin

Hallo liebe Schülerinnen und Schüler. Herzlich Willkommen zu unserem sechsten Podcast.  Und diesem Podcast geht es um die Deutsche Bundeskanzlerin. Der Bundeskanzler oder die Bundeskanzlerin leitet die deutsche Regierung. Zur Zeit leitet Frau Dr. Angela Dorothea Merkel die Bundesregierung und somit die Deutsche Bundeskanzlerin. Aber warum ist es Frau Dr. Merkel? Ist sie vielleicht Ärztin? Nein, Frau Dr. Merkel hat im Fach […]

Die Lieblingsinsel der Deutschen

Hallo liebe Schülerinnen und Schüler. Herzlich Willkommen zu unserem fünften Podcast! Ihr werdet euch sicherlich wundern, warum ich am Telefon bin. Der Grund ist ganz einfach: ich bin im Urlaub. Ich hatte die Nase vom Arbeiten gestrichen voll und dachte, ich mach mal eine Pause. Also habe ich eine Woche Mallorcaurlaub gebucht. Und das ist […]

Der Anglizismus des Jahres

Hallo liebe Schülerinnen und Schüler! Herzlich Willkommen zu unserem 4. Podcast. Und in diesem Podcast geht es um den Anglizismus des Jahres. Was ist überhaupt ein Anglizismus? Ein Anglizismus ist ein Wort aus dem Englischen, das in die deutsche Sprache übernommen wurde. Und jedes Jahr wählt Deutschland den Anglizismus des Jahres. Der Anglizismus des Jahres muss ein englisches Wort sein und es muss weit verbreitet […]

Die Fußballweltmeisterschaft

Hallo liebe Schülerinnen und Schüler. Herzlich Willkommen zu unserem 3. Podcast. Heute ist der 2. Juni 2014. Es sind noch knapp 2 Wochen bis zum Beginn der Fußballweltmeisterschaft in Brasilien. Da ist es doch mal an der Zeit, dass wir uns anschauen, wie Deutschland in der Geschichte so gespielt hat.  Die erste Fußballweltmeisterschaft fand 1930 […]

Wer spricht alles Deutsch?

Hallo liebe Schülerinnen und Schüler. Herzlich Willkommen zu unserem zweiten Podcast! Ich habe kürzlich gelesen, dass nur 1,57% der Weltbevölkerung Deutsch spricht. Da muss man sich doch fragen, warum wir überhaupt Deutsch lernen. Eine berechtigte Frage, find ich. Und diese Frage möchte ich hier heute beantworten. Schauen wir uns mal einige Statistiken an: Weltweit gibt […]

Der, die oder das Podcast?

Hallo liebe Schülerinnen und Schüler und herzlich Willkommen zu unserem ersten Podcast. Und in diesem ersten Podcast geht es auch gleich um das Wort Podcast. Wir wollen herausfinden, woher das Wort kommt, ob es der, die oder das Podcast ist, und warum. Ihr wisst natürlich alle, was ein Podcast ist, denn ansonsten würdet ihr heute diesen Podcast nicht hören können. Ich habe […]

Reasons to learn German

German is widely spoken in Europe: Count the 83 Million inhabitants of Germany, add Austria, the German speaking part of Switzerland plus Luxemburg, and German speaking minorities in Northern Italy, Southern Denmark and the Alsace in France and you get the picture. Of course, there is more than just the holiday aspect, since Germany is […]

German Expatriates in London

Almost 40,000 Germans are living in London. More than Winston Churchill would ever have envisaged… In contrast to other nationalities, Germans living in London keep a low profile; they do not dominate the high street with schnitzel restaurants or sausage shops. Instead, finances permitting, many of the young professionals opt to live in Wimbledon, Chelsea, […]

British Expats in Germany

Over the years, Germany has had a large British expatriate community, mainly through military personnel stationed there since 1945. Then, there was an influx of British builders & workers in the seventies and eighties who came to work in Germany – immortalised in the television series Auf Wiedersehen Pet! However, they did not settle permanently, but went […]

Only 1.571% of the world speaks German

Why learn German you may ask? Please read on … There are about 7,000 languages worldwide. Many languages are threatened by extinction, especially languages spoken by natives in Asia and America. Some languages are spoken by only a couple of people. More that 50% of languages have less than 10,000 speakers; more than 25% of […]

Fighting ‘Denglisch’

‘Denglisch’ is a combination of Deutsch (German) and English. Introduced to Germany by the American way of life, it has, according to the German Language Society, ‘crept’ in to German. The German Language Society is not against Anglicism per se, but against the readiness of Germans who can’t speak English to use ‘Denglisch’ to prance […]

Plautdietsch – low German

What is Plautdietch (Plattdeutsch) and how comes that variants of the language are spoken the world over? Plautdietsch or Mennonite Low German is a Low Prussian dialect. ‘Low’ referring to the plains of northern Germany and Dietsch (Deutsch) meaning German. As mentioned in our previous article, Germans were invited by the Russian Empire to settle […]

What is a Russia German?

Russia German is a term describing Germans who migrated to Russia from the start of the 13th century through to the end of the 19th century. They are also known as German Russians or Soviet Germans. Tsarina Catherine II, herself of German descent, introduced an open immigration policy for Russia with many Germans using the […]

Understanding Germans

What do Germans really understand when the English talk to them? The English language has many subtleties that do not exist in German. The German language is very literal and & as a result, Germans may come across as rude or off-hand to the English speaker. Of course, Germans are not rude at all. When […]

Vocational training in Germany

One of the most effective ways of training for a trade in Germany is by completing a vocational training programme. Germany has developed a system which provides an excellent balance between theoretical and practical training and hands-on work experience. Known as dual vocational training, it is a course of study typically lasting between two and […]

German Anglicism of the Year

Each year, Germany votes for an Anglicism of the year. The Anglicism has to be an English word that was widely used in Germany throughout that year. The new word must also fill a gap in the German language by either further differentiating the meaning of a particular word or by providing a new word […]

False friends in German

Germans are loyal and trustworthy folks. However, there are some false friends in the German language that may confuse the English speaker or his mind. If the German finance minister says that 2 Billionen Euros are sufficient to bails out Greece, then he’s got his figures right because he actually means two trillion. A billion […]

Funding your studies in Germany

Last week we looked at some of the benefits and practicalities of studying in Germany, however one of the most important considerations for many people is how they will support themselves financially whilst they continue their education. Though most German universities do not charge tuition fees, there are still living costs to be planned for, […]

German Industries

As we mentioned in our previous blog, Germany has a thriving job market. However, it also has an ageing population which has led to shortages of workers in some key sectors. It’s this ageing population which is partly responsible for shortfalls in the healthcare sector. Current figures suggest that Germany needs 5,000 additional doctors; it […]

New Year – New Job in Germany

Germany has one the lowest levels of unemployment in Europe; the forecast for February 2014 is 4.9%. This is not only because of a booming economy but also due labour market reforms conducted early in the last decade and the impact of demographic change, which means a dwindling supply of skilled workers to replace those […]

Silvester – New Year’s Eve in German

Germans, like many others around the world, celebrate the end of the old year and the beginning of a new one with festivities and fireworks. Others opt for a quiet night in watching “Dinner for One” on TV, a British sketch from the 1920s which has become an unlikely New Year’s tradition in Germany despite […]

The Hairy Wife and Reflexive Verbs

Quite early on when learning German, you will have come across reflexive verbs. Reflexive verbs do also exist in English and can sometimes be translated by ‘myself’, ‘yourself’ etc. For example: He is pouring himself a cup of tea. – Er schenkt sich eine Tasse Tee ein. What does the term ‘reflexive verb’ actually mean? […]

German Christmas Traditions

Although in some regions of Germany, the start of the Christmas season is heralded as early as 11 November on St Martin’s Day, but it officially begins on the first Sunday of advent, which this year fell on 1 December. German children, like British ones, open the first window on their Adventskalender on this day, […]

Saint Nicholas Day

Saint Nicholas Day, Nickolaus Tag, celebrated just short of three weeks before Christmas, has to be one of the most joyful events in the German calendar. This festival for the patron saint of children falls on 6 December, when he is said to have performed many miracles. Children write letters on the day before the […]

Technology – Help or hindrance?

Technology has without doubt made language learning far more accessible and may have even been responsible for some people taking up a foreign language as it’s a great way to have a little taster before committing to a formal course. However, it can also be incredibly tempting to use the technology at our disposal as […]

Friedrich Schiller

Continuing our series of blogs on influential Germans, this week we take a look at the life and work of the poet, historian, philosopher and playwright Friedrich Schiller.  Schiller was born in November 1759 and received his early grounding in language by way of the Greek and Latin tuition he received as a boy. He […]

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

In our last blog we looked at the work of the Goethe Institute in promoting the study of German around the world. This week, we  explore something of the life and work of the man after whom the institute is named, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Goethe was a hugely influential writer, philosopher and politician. Born […]

The Power of Language

The Goethe-Institute is a German cultural organisation which for over 50 years has been promoting interest in, and study of, the German language around the world. Back in 2007, it launched an ambitious project which saw a series of events take place worldwide under the banner “The Power of Language” (Die Macht der Sprache). The […]

German in a Globalised World

In an increasingly globalised world where English is more or less the undisputed international language of business, what place is there for multilingualism? Well, there are several global companies who believe that foreign languages, and specifically German, play an important role in helping employees integrate in today’s multi-cultural workplace. The software giant SAP, which has […]

Martin Luther and the German Language

Few people can be unfamiliar with the name Martin Luther, the German theologian and instigator of the Reformation. The story of Luther posting his disputations of some of the doctrines and practices of Roman Catholicism, his 95 Theses, on the door of his local church in Wittenberg is exceedingly well known, even though some scholars […]

The brothers Grimm and the German dictionary

The brothers Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm are, of course, famed for fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin and Cinderella, which are known and loved by children the world over some 200 years after the brothers published their first collection of folk tales. However, the brothers were not just storytellers. They were also trained […]

Konrad Duden & German Orthography

Since 1880 one name has been the authoritative source for the correct spelling, pronunciation and usage of German words: Duden. Duden is to German what the OED is to English. Konrad Alexander Friedrich Duden was born on 3 January 1829 in Wesel, Germany. After completing his secondary education, he studied history and philology at Bonn […]

Council for German Orthography

There is an official body for regulation of the German language, just as there is for many other languages. These institutions are often called language academies. In the case of German, the role is fulfilled by the Council for German Orthography, shortened to RdR from its German name, der Rat für deutsche Rechtschreibung. Der Rat […]

German Language Online

A recent study of languages used on the internet* shows that German is one of the most widely-used languages in the online world. It’s hardly surprising that English is the most-used language, being the main content language for a massive 55% of all websites. Just under 6% of websites use German as a content language. While this […]

Das Oktoberfest

One of the most famous gems of German culture known worldwide is the Oktoberfest, a 16-day festival celebrating beer which takes place annually in Munich, Bavaria. The name suggests that it takes place in October, although nowadays this is only partly true. It now begins in September, having been brought forward in order to benefit from better weather conditions. This year will see […]

Irregular German Verbs Simple Past

In our last blog we have had a look at irregular verbs in the present tense. This blog we would like to dedicate to irregular verbs in the simple past. Verbs are sometimes categorised in regular, irregular and mixed verbs. Mixed verbs are in fact irregular verbs but do not change their stem in the […]

Irregular German Verbs Present

Irregular verbs, sometimes called strong verbs, have irregularities in the present tense indicative or the simple past indicative and in the past participle.  In today’s blog we would like to have a closer look at irregular verbs in the present tense indicative. Indicative simply means that we are stating facts when using that verb. If […]

English in the German Language

In our previous blog we have been looking at German words used in English and now we would like to introduce you to English words used in the German language. The German language uses English words because it isn’t always easy to find a suitable German equivalent. The loaning of words eases communication and makes […]

German expressions in English

English has been steadily adopting words from German for several centuries. I will describe a few here; the tip of the iceberg so to speak. And there we have the first word that has been loaned from German: the iceberg. We have all heard of the über-cool word doppelganger which is also a German term. […]

The prepositions ‘an’ and ‘auf’

During my lessons I see students struggle with the German prepositions ‘an’ and ‘auf’. Both are used to describe locations and require either the Accusative or the Dative case. If we can ask ‘wohin’ (where to), then the preposition requires the Accusative and if we ask ‘wo’ (where) then the Dative is required. This begs […]

Adjective endings in German

In a previous blog article, I wrote about the challenge learners of the German language can face when declining adjectives. There are four cases in German, 3 genders and 1 plural, then there are three ways of declining an adjective: with an indefinite article, with a definite article and without an article (zero declension). That […]

False friends in German

Germans are loyal and trustworthy folks. However, there are some false friends in the German language that may confuse the English speaker or his mind. If the German finance minister says that 2 Billionen Euros are sufficient to bail out Greece, then he’s got his figures right because he actually means two trillion. A billion […]

Understanding word frequency

A frequency dictionary can be of great help when learning German. It does not, however, replace a good conventional bilingual or monolingual dictionary. Let’s have a look at a few German words and their frequency in the German language: the most frequent word being the definite articles der, die, das and their various forms. You […]

German Word Frequency

You must have come across words that you never seem to be able to remember. Why is it that when learning German you remember some words better than other words? The answers is word frequency. Word frequency analysis is not new and dates back well over 100 years to 1898 when Friedrich Wilhelm Kaeding published […]

Position of the finite verb

During my German lessons, I see many of my students placing the finite verb in 3rd position, as they would do in their mother tongue. In German however, the basic rule to remember about word order in simple sentences or main clauses is that the finite (conjugated) verb is always the ‘second idea’. The finite […]

The Present Tense in German

If you have just started taking German lessons or have studied the German language for some time, then rest assured, understanding German tenses is much more straight forward than many think. In a previous blog I already touched on the subject. Today I would like to focus on how I go about teaching German tenses […]

Accusative and Dative in German

Whilst providing German tuition, students often ask me what the Accusative and the Dative is. Accusative and Dative are cases and they tell the function of nouns in a sentence. Many languages use cases, including English. In German, the direct object requires the Accusative case and the indirect object requires the Dative. Consider the following […]

The Gender of Nouns in German

In my previous blog I wrote about the declension of adjectives and I summed up the blog by stressing the importance of knowing the gender of nouns. Those of you, who have already started learning German, will most certainly have come across the definite articles der, die, das and may have wondered how to know […]

German Adjective Declension

Declining adjectives is one of the most challenging parts of German. Most students taking up German courses or private lessons with us struggle with that aspect of the language, even intermediate and advance learners. How adjectives are being declined is depended on the article that precedes the adjective. There are three ways of declining adjectives: […]

‘Present Perfect Continues’ in German

During many years of teaching German to English speakers, I found that many students tend to struggle with the same aspects of German due to the different structure of English. This blog serves to highlight recurring problems to help learners of German to overcome these challenges. Yesterday, for example, I was teaching a regular student […]

The evolution of German

I am often asked during my lessons how German as we speak it today came about. The modern German language, or standard German, which we know today has evolved over a period of centuries just as English has developed from Old English through Middle English to the tongue we speak today. Old High German probably […]

German Business Partners

Germans are proud of ”made in Germany” as a synonym for quality and reliability. In business meetings, Germans are rather formal, detail-oriented and direct. They tend to say exactly what they want and mean. They are decision making and problem solving oriented, although these processes can take quite some time to complete, especially considering the […]

Business etiquette in Germany

I often get asked during German lessons what the right business etiquette in Germany is. Here a little synopsis about meeting German business partners for the first time: When meeting with business partners for the first time in person, make sure you are on time, dressed appropriately and armed with ample business cards. Your business […]

You know more German than you think

You shouldn’t be daunted at the idea of embarking on German lessons, it’s likely you already know a lot more German thank you think. Our two languages are in fact closely related, both being West Germanic languages, so you’ll find that many words are almost identical, if not in spelling then in pronunciation. The words […]

Why learning German is so worthwhile

As a nation the British don’t have the best reputation for being proficient speakers of foreign languages. Changes to school curriculums are attempting to remedy this situation and prevent future generations being thought “lazy” by the rest of Europe because so many of us don’t take the trouble to learn a second language. But is […]

Practice makes perfect

One of the things learners of any language frequently bemoan is the lack of opportunities outside of their lessons to put into practice what they’ve learnt. Your German classes will help you develop your speaking and writing skills. However, you can help yourself to further develop your listening and reading skills by availing yourself of […]

Time keeping – a German virtue

Learning to tell the time in German One of the first things you will learn in your German language classes are numbers. It will help you say what floor you need in a lift, or on railway concourse, or in an office block. It will also enable you to tell the time. Timekeeping, for all […]

Addressing German business associates

How should you address business associates in Germany? As a newcomer to German one of the first topics you’re likely to cover is the personal pronouns: ich, du, er, sie, es, meaning I, you, he, she, it and so on. If you’ve already started learning the language, then you’ll know that there are two different […]

Learning German on a business trip

If you’ve taken a German language course in order to improve your business German then a trip to the country to meet clients or colleagues is a great chance to improve your language skills. Learn vocabulary Once all the business is done for the day, there’s the temptation to stay in your hotel and relax. […]

German Language Podcasts

You are learning German and wondered where you can practice listening and comprehension? Podcasts are a great way of listening to German on the bus, on the tube or whilst walking. There are a number of podcasts and it can take quite some time to work through them all before you find what suits you […]

Measuring German Language Levels

You may have heard of the Common European Reference Framework for Languages? It is quite a mouthful but useful at measuring language levels. Have you ever wondered which level your German language is at or what the various levels actually mean? The basic levels are A1 and A2. If you have achieved level A1 then you […]

How do you learn German?

If you are looking to learn German, then you might consider a self learning course, contact a language school or engage a private tutor. Autodidactic learning is probably the most cost effective way of picking up a new language and you don’t have to schlepp half way across London to attend classes. Some get quite […]

Communicating with Germans

What do Germans really understand when the English talk to them? The English language has many subtleties that do not exist in German. The German language is very literal and as a result, Germans may come across as rude or off-hand to the English speaker. Of course, most Germans are not rude at all. When […]

German in the office

Planning to relocate to Germany for professional reasons? Or maybe working with Germans on a regular basis? The following words are taken from every day office language. Have you come across some of them yet? Der Anhang: If you send an email from a German version of outlook and you would like to also send […]

German sausage feasts in London

So you have been taking private German lessons for a while? Or even an intensive German course? And now you would like to go a little further and experience German outside your lessons? Because sometimes it is not just all about grammar or vocabulary, sometimes it just helps to get a taste of Germany to […]

Three good reasons to learn German

German is widely spoken in Europe: Count the 80 Million inhabitants of Germany, add Austria, the German speaking part of Switzerland plus Luxemburg, and German speaking minorities in Northern Italy, Southern Denmark and the Alsace in France and you get the picture. Of course, there is more than just the holiday aspect, since Germany is […]